Toppers put pads on for first time Friday

Lucas Aulbach

The Toppers hit the field with shoulder pads on for the first time this spring on Friday.

The added weight was a definite reminder of the teams’ heightened expectations coming into the 2012 season.

“I’m excited to put the pads back on, it’s been a long time,” senior defensive back Kareem Peterson said at practice. “We didn’t get a bowl game so our season got cut short. This is exciting. It’s a beautiful day. Definitely ready to do it.”

Friday featured great weather for football, with temperatures reaching into the upper 70s. The unusually high temperatures this spring have forced the Toppers to stay hydrated at practice.

Peterson said the Toppers are making sure to drink a lot of water and called this year’s team “the best conditioned team since I’ve been here.”

“We’ll be in shape better for this, but we’ve still got to keep water in our system,” he said.

Senior tight end Jack Doyle said playing with pads on puts more pressure on the running game during practice.

“It’s good to do passing game with no pads on,” he said. “It gets a little different when you put the pads on, you get the defense thinking about the run.”

The Toppers have been using several running backs since Bobby Rainey played his last game at WKU last year. Head Coach Willie Taggart said earlier in the week that WKU is planning on using a “running back by committee” at the start of the season.

Friday was also the first afternoon practice of the season for the Toppers. They’ll practice again on Saturday afternoon and are planning on playing a light scrimmage game for part of the practice, Taggart said.

Peterson said the defense is planning on taking full advantage of their pads tomorrow in their first physical scrimmage.

“We haven’t done tackling in a long time,” he said. “Last season we kind of struggled some games with tackling, so we’re definitely gonna be physical and tackle tomorrow. That’s going to be the main focus, on tackling drills and all that good stuff.”